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No More Leap Second? 295

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.
WerewulfX writes "CNN reports: "In a phenomenon that has scientists puzzled, the Earth is right on schedule for a fifth straight year." Update yeah, this is a repost. Whatever- it's a holiday. Nothing else to post :)
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No More Leap Second?

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  • Hah. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kirk Troll (729217) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:02PM (#7854623) Journal
    Those poor souls who are born on that second aren't going to have a birthday. T_T
    • But instead the people born on 29th of February should be happy we have a leap year this time again.
      I should think about some present for my 18-year-old grandma soon..
    • by pflodo (640623) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @11:10PM (#7856862) Homepage
      When (greater) Sweden was going to change from Julian to Gregorian calendar they stuffed it up, got one day out of sync with all Julian countries, so to get back in sync they added an extra leap day, creating the only 30th Feb in history.

      They eventually made the change from Julian in 1753 by having (gregorian) 1st Mar 1753 after (julian) 17 Feb 1753 removing ten days.

      Makes a leap second seem a bit insignificant....

      If you have no idea about Julian (as in Ceasar) and Gregorian (as in pope) calendars, have a look here [hermetic.ch]
      • I was born on Feb 30, 1969. At least my fake ID says so. Funny; not one person noticed it in the five years or so I used that fake ID consistently. Not even when I asked them straight out what was wrong with the data they were looking at.

        People react immediately at Feb 29 of whatever year and check if it's a leap year. Feb 30 just passes as another date.

        Hell, I even have a library card using that fake ID. Even though it's been a long time since I used (or needed) the older identity, I still think it's kin
  • by rasafras (637995) <.tamas. .at. .pha.jhu.edu.> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:02PM (#7854624) Homepage
    Slashdot dupes are, as always, right on time!
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:03PM (#7854638)
    the dupe second?
    • What about the dupe second?
      • by illuminata (668963)
        The person who modded me redundant gave me a good laugh, because I can't tell if they got the joke or really thought that it was redundant in a bad way.

        Tricky shit, my friend. Tricky shit.
  • MORONS!

    This is a dupe. Not only that, I emailed about this being a dupe, 10 minutes before it went live.

    TEN MINUTES!

    Not only does Slashdot not even bother to correctly check for dupes, they don't even read their email that says "YOUR UPCOMING STORY IS A DUPE!".

    Just what is the "email the editor if you see a problem with this story" link for, then, anyhow?

    Just for the hell of it?

    BAH!

    • What the hell is this crap? Redundant???

      This isn't a normal "I was too lazy to properly check for dupes" situation.

      No.

      This is a situation where someone, who is supposed to be ON DUTY and who are supposed to READ their emails about potential problems with the story they just posted, neglecting their duty.

      Honestly, the story is posted. They only have to pay attention for a total of 15 minutes until it goes live. Whomever it was, didn't.

      I'm quite willing to bet that I wasn't the only person that pre-em
      • This ranks right up there with the folks that were supposed to prevent 9/11 and with doctors that let people die just because they have injuries too serious to fix! Dupes on Slashdot SHOULD ruin everyone's day - neigh - LIFE!!! Editors on Slashdot that allow dupes on a holiday should be shot, burned, and their ashes scattered over the local sewage treatment plant. This is seriously a serious situation. A free (unless you're a subscriber) service that posts a duplicate story. I think we should outright
    • 20% Informative
      20% Flamebait
      20% Overrated

      That sure is an interesting moderation score. What happened to the other 40%?
  • What if... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:06PM (#7854660)
    Who says that the extra second wasn't just deja vu? I know that I could have sworn I saw this post before.
  • Mother Nature (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NetNinja (469346)
    The Earth has the uncanny ability to heal itself.
    • Re:Mother Nature (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:30PM (#7855168) Homepage
      Heal itself? That implies that there is something natural about the 24-hour day. The Earth's rotation rate has been decreasing for billions of years. An Earth day was approximately 18 hours in duration 900 million years ago.
      • I don't think you can really say that.

        We can estimate how long a day was in the past based on current trends. But as this article shows, that may not be accurate. The article says the discovery of leap seconds is a side effect of the invention of the atomic clock in 1955. That means we've had not quite 50 years to observe trends. For the last 5 the trend has been different than in the past, and we have no clue why. That's over 10% of the sample data that breaks the trend, which isn't a small amount.

        I'd sa
      • An Earth day was approximately 18 hours in duration 900 million years ago.

        Hah! that's nothing, a Work Day was approximately 18 hours just 100 years ago.
  • So, does this mean that the acceleration of the earth has changed, and if so, does that that mean we will continue to slow? If we do slow, won't the gravity of the sun effect out orbit? Will we see more el ninjo effects, or other wierd phenomenon? One second could be a big deal.
  • Late trains (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by immel (699491)
    "In a phenomenon that has scientists puzzled..."
    WOW! This is just like the sensation I get when I go to the U.S and a train is on time.
    *puts on ballistic nylon in preparation for incoming flak*
  • In what has completely baffled geeks and nerds of the world, CmdrTaco has proven once again for the nth straight year that he can post duplicate stories right on time.

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/12 /3 0/2317231
  • by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy.pavleck@com> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:23PM (#7854787) Homepage Journal
    Exactly how do they figure out where the Earth is supposed to be down to a given second?
    I understand Atomic clocks and how they work - but I don't understand how scientists can deduce where the earth should be to the exact second and correct it as such.
    • Very easy: Take a telescope, look at some star, and check each year if it is where it should be according to calculations using atomic clock time.
      • And how do you determine that the telescope is pointed at exactly the correct angle?
        • I suppose the white coats have telescope pointing mechanisms that are accurate enough to to point to a such a high repeatably. How such a mechanism is designed is beyond me right now.
      • Very easy: Take a telescope, look at some star, and check each year if it is where it should be according to calculations using atomic clock time.

        Ok.

        01:42:32.682 : Star is currently.. up there... check.

        Everything's ok over here.
    • Exactly how do they figure out where the Earth is supposed to be down to a given second?

      In a nutshell, astronomical observations.

      OK OK, that isn't "exactly how they do it", but it should give you an idea of how they do it. Maybe someone else can provide more detail.
    • It's actually very straightforward... 'where the Earth is supposed to be' is calculated assuming that the length of a day/year doesn't change, which isn't quite true.

      Both measurement of time and of the Earth's position need to be accurate enough for this to be a problem... apparently they are.

    • ...that we're fast? How do we know the rest of the universe isn't slowing down?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Each year German scientists leave a beacon along Earth's orbit. This crusty marker stays there until it is picked up next year, and the elapsed time is measured. This year, the time was different than expected. It's called the Hansul-Gretel algorythm.

      He Schutze, He Scores!
    • It has nothing to do with "where the Earth is supposed to be". This is *not* about the earth orbiting the sun.

      This is all about the earth spinning on its axis, 24 hours/revolution. As others mentioned, you can figure out quite precisely when the earth has made one revolution about its axis, by looking at a star.

      The point is, slight variations in the earth's rotational speed on its axis mean that it doesn't take exactly 24 hrs 0 min 0.000 000 sec to turn once.

      At the end of the year, they take all the va
  • And I only had 107,993 years left before my nefarios plan to come to work a half-hour late every day.
  • by DJStealth (103231) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:31PM (#7854839)
    scientists in 1972 started adding an extra "leap second"
    Scientists in 1972 did too much acid and other drugs
  • last year (Score:4, Funny)

    by phazei (559785) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:35PM (#7854860)
    this article is soooo last year
  • ummm, the moon? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ignipotentis (461249) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:40PM (#7854890)
    I don't think this should be that suprising. It is widely known that the moon's orbit is increasing. The effects of this is slowly causing the tides to be less severe. It is also slowing the earth's rotation. Eventually the moon will be in orbit around the equator, and there will be no more tide. I think there might be a good chance that the loss of the leap second could be related to this.
  • Babies (Score:5, Funny)

    by blike (716795) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:42PM (#7854905) Homepage
    Spare me please. You all are the biggest bunch of need-something-to-whine-about babies I have seen in a good long time. So what if something was double posted? It takes half a second to scan the headline and realize that its a repeat. You take more time crawling all over each other to be the first to whine/complain/joke about the repeated story. For God sakes, ignore the post if your time is so precious! "HELLO? What is the problem? I doubt I'll donate to Slashdot again!" That is the saddest sentence I have ever had the misfortune of reading. Slashdot pours all kinds of blessings upon us geeks daily and you refuse to contribute BECAUSE A STORY WAS REPEATED? GOD FORBID! Burn them at the stake! They have wasted your precious half of a second! Seriously folks, cry me a river.
    • If it only takes half a second, why don't they do it? On the most dupes day I've ever seen (3 - of stories still on the front page!), that would have taken, um, yeah, hmmmm. I'll let someone else do the math.

      Why people complain about it is beyond me. Duplication of effort is a tradition in the open source world! Plus, I've already wasted more than 30 earth-orbit-leap-seconds posting this.

    • Re:Babies (Score:3, Interesting)

      > It takes half a second to scan the headline and realize that its a repeat

      Did you notice this is the same kind of logic some spammers use when they try to convince others that spamming is harmless ? Something along the line of "It just takes a second to read, and if you don't like, just ignore it.".

    • Yeah but think of how many seconds of how many million geeks, wasted, i tell you WASTED! If any of the editors have the foresight to spend say 60 seconds checking, then the precious seconds of all the poor geeks in Asia and Africa will not be
      lost, and to add ruthless insult to grieveous injury, even the cruel Earth has sought to deprived them of it since 1998. And I might add that if this continues, the terrorists would have already won. Spare a thought for the children.
    • The only thing that annoys me more than the whiners you speak of are the whiners who wine about people whining, which you are doing. Why don't you just shut the hell up and let people whine? Do you think you are imparting the community with some precious nugget of golden knowledge here? Take you own advice, and "For God sakes, ignore the post if your time is so precious!"

      See, I could have just ignored you're post, but I chose to whine about it instead. It's quite a vicious circle you're a part of here.
  • AOL CDs (Score:3, Funny)

    by T-Ranger (10520) <jeffw@chebuRASPcto.ns.ca minus berry> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:45PM (#7854927) Homepage
    AOL must have some way of directly converting energy into matter, specificly CDs ala Star Treks replicators. The proof being that if they arn't the entire earths resources would have been consumed 2 or 3 times over in their production via conventional means.

    And all that energy to matter conversion has increased the mass of the Earth. Which has increased its gravatational field, and the effects of everything elses field on it. Thus the earth is moving faster.



    Or possibly space dust.

    • Re:40l cd5 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Deraj DeZine (726641)
      But haven't you seen their new advertising campaign? They've reformed! Everyone likes AOL now, even Snoop Dogg!

      I personally expected them to give up on their CDs a while ago, but there's no accounting for marketing...
  • To be sure, this is merely that there was no leap second yesterday. Slashdot has previously seen another story [slashdot.org] about the possibility that leap seconds might be discontinued permanently. Within the confines of that are links to everything that you could ever want to know about leap seconds, earth rotation, history of internecine wars between astronomers and physicists about time, etc.
  • by Michael.Forman (169981) * on Thursday January 01, 2004 @05:54PM (#7854975) Homepage Journal

    If the Earth is assumed to be a homogeneous sphere and the rotational axis is assumed to be the straight line passing through the north and south geographic poles, the moment of inertia of the Earth is I = MR^2 where M is the total mass of the Earth and R is its radius. The kinetic energy of a rotating Earth is given by K = 1/2 I w^2, where w is the angular velocity.

    The energy associated with an angular velocity which is increased by 1 second over a year is equivalent to an extra 1.6e22 Joules of energy or 40 times the annual energy consumption of mankind (DoE 1999). A detailed analysis and matlab script are available here [michael-forman.com]

    Yeah, this is a rereply. Whatever. It's a holiday. Nothing else to reply to. :)

    Michael. [michael-forman.com]
    • If the Earth is assumed to be a homogeneous sphere and the rotational axis is assumed to be the straight line passing through the north and south geographic poles, the moment of inertia of the Earth is I = MR^2 where M is the total mass of the Earth and R is its radius. The kinetic energy of a rotating Earth is given by K = 1/2 I w^2, where w is the angular velocity.

      With global warming, won't the radius increase, affecting this calculation?

      Regards,
      --
      *Art

      • What, when the radius of the earth increases by a few meters, mostly just because water expands? The rock isn't going to expand much in comparison.
        • What, when the radius of the earth increases by a few meters, mostly just because water expands? The rock isn't going to expand much in comparison.

          The increase in the radius of the atmosphere is proportional to the increase in absolute temperature. At 0K, there's no atmosphere at all. I wouldn't be surprised if a few degrees C overall temperature increase would have a measurable effect on the radius of the planet.

          Regards,
          --
          *Art
  • Posts (Score:5, Funny)

    by greygent (523713) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:05PM (#7855037) Homepage
    Update yeah, this is a repost. Whatever- it's a holiday. Nothing else to post

    Sure there is. You could post about how the Stardust probe is about to enter a comet's tail, or perhaps India's plans for a hypersonic plane, or even the chnaging face of offshore programming...
    • Or how blasted everyone got last night...
    • by devphil (51341)


      Most of the dupes are Taco's. For him to take your suggestions would require Taco to actually read his own website... which he's never shown any evidence of doing.

  • Someone's overclocking the Matrix!
  • Less mass (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrLint (519792) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:12PM (#7855070) Journal
    Well the earth is on time due to the massively successful launching into space of all the world's boy bands and all that casts of all the reality shows.

    I mean NASA did actually get that done right?
  • by ljavelin (41345) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:18PM (#7855111)
    CNN Says:

    For 28 years, scientists repeated the procedure [of adding a leap second]. But in 1999, they discovered the Earth was no longer lagging behind.

    Um, not exactly true. Not every year over the last 28 years has had a leap second. For example, 1984, 1986 and 1987 didn't have a leap second. It's generally determined if a leap second is necessary about 6 months ahead of time by IERS [iers.org]. However, this is the first 5 year gap of no leap seconds.

    It's interesting to note that the "leap second protocol" permits a "reverse" leap second - meaning a "short" minute. This is because the folks involved in defining the leap second realized that the rotation of the earth is not 100% predictable, and therefore they theorized that there could be a "fast spinning year" that would merit the loss of a second. This hasn't happened yet.

    This whole rotation-of-earth-isn't-constant idea is pretty new (50 years). So just because we have a 5 year period of smaller rotaional speed deltas isn't totally unexpected.
  • by Tim (686) <timr@@@alumni...washington...edu> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:25PM (#7855146) Homepage
    Actually, not only is the article a dupe, but I just saw the old article linked on google news!

    My new year's prediction: this article, having found a niche, will be continually resubmitted by clueless slashdot readers, reposted, and picked up by automated news services in a never-ending cycle of google-reader-slashdot that will ultimately threaten the very fabric of the internet itself!!

    Hey. It's as plausible of any other prediction I've read today...
    • ".. threaten the very fabric of the internet itself!!"

      What is the very fabric of the internet? I'm thinking mostly polyester, maybe a cotton polyester blend. Perhaps 90/10.

      mmm this beer is good...hey, did I hit submit? no, damn...mm this beer is good..
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:23PM (#7855607) Journal
    To make the world's official time agree with where the Earth actually is in space, scientists in 1972 started adding an extra "leap second" on the last day of the year.

    "Where earth actually is in space"?

    As HopeOS said when the previous article was posted:

    "Leap seconds, as pointed out, are an entirely different beast, and are meant to shore up the discrepency between our actual rotation and the atomic clocks we use."

    That's why. This has nothing to do with rotations around our sun, just around our own axis.

    At the National Institute for Science and Technology in Boulder, spokesman Fred McGehan said most scientists agree the Earth's orbit around the sun has been gradually slowing for millennia.

    Assuming this is true and this is the actual news here, the reporter (and the writer of the other article) shouldn't have started talking about leap seconds in the first place since these aren't added to compensate for that.
  • by fw3 (523647) * on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:28PM (#7856313) Homepage Journal
    In addition to the fact that tides and the moon influence earth's rotation, so does weather.

    Particularly, the monsoon season I believe has the largest effect, particularly because the generated winds impact the himalayan mountains.

    The combination of a large (albeit distributed) force impacting a large object (himalayas) affects the angular velocity of the earth.

    I learned this first because a friend was writing an ephermeris program and got in contact with the guy an NIST who tracks these things. I beleive they can make some predictions of change in rotational velocity based on the force of observed storms.

    Also the Navy has built an array of (radio or laser, I forget) interferrometers located in (I believe) the rocky mountains which are used to measure the actual variances against star positions.

    • I'd say the rapid bloating of the US population is why the earth is slowing down.

      [cnn.com]

  • Is a re-reply.

    Yeah. It's the new-year.

    Nothing new to reply.
  • magnetic pole flipping around?

Byte your tongue.

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